Writing our own stories in the form of autobiography is one way we can relate our experience to others, feel more secure in our own personal history (by tying it together in narrative), and document our place in history. I have a lot to say about this topic and will write more. But first, a friend at PFLAG forwarded this information to me:
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Transgender and Transsexual Autobiography
For the last 75 years, transgender and Transsexual Autobiographies have told the stories of their authors’ lives and appealed for greater acceptance of transgender people. Autobiography remains one of the most important genres of transgender literary expression.
Kate Bornstein (b. 1948) is one of the best known transgender activists in America. Her book “Gender Outlaw” (1994), which is part autobiography, part manifesto, and part fashion guide, contributed to the political mobilization of transsexuals.
Roberta Close (b. 1964), a Brazilian model and entertainer, was proclaimed “The World’s Most Beautiful Model” in a 1984 tabloid headline. Her autobiography, “Much Pleasure, Roberta Close” (1998), raised eyebrows because of her claim to have been involved with many internationally famous male celebrities.
Michael Dillon (1915-1962) was the first person to transition both hormonally and surgically from female to male. Dillon’s unpublished autobiography was rediscovered by English journalist Liz Hodgkinson and served as an important source for her book “Michael Née Laura” (1989) and a more recent biography by Pagan Kennedy entitled “The First Man-Made Man” (2007).
Lili Elbe (1886-1931) was among the world’s first post-operative male-to-female transsexuals. Her letters and diaries were compiled into “Man Into Woman” (1933), one of the first popular books to draw a distinction between homosexuality and transsexuality.
Leslie Feinberg (b. 1949) is a pioneering transgender activist, historian, and writer. The main character of Feinberg’s novel “Stone Butch Blues” (1993) shares so many similarities with the book’s author that many consider it semi-autobiographical.
Christine Jorgensen (1926-1989) was the first person to undergo a a sex-change operation that was highly publicized in the United States. Her book “Christine Jorgensen: A Personal Autobiography” (1967) was adapted for a film released in 1970.
Charlotte von Mahlsdorf (1928-2002) was an East German preservationist and museum founder. Her autobiography, “I Am My Own Wife” (1992), tells the story of her own life as well as that of a whole generation of East German homosexuals who faced persecution first from the Nazis and then from the Communists.
Jan Morris (b. 1926), a prolific Anglo-Welsh journalist, historian, and travel writer, was among the first transsexuals to tell her story publicly in a memoir. She dedicated “Conundrum” (1974) “to all who are suffering still in the same solitary and unsought cause.”
Renee Richards (b. 1934), a transsexual tennis player, successfully sued the United States Tennis Association so that she could compete in the U.S. Women’s Open. Her autobiography, “Second Serve” (1986), reveals the details of her troubled childhood as well as her adult successes in tennis and as an eye surgeon.
VISIT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY FOR THESE BOOKS! IF THEY DON’T HAVE WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR, MAKE A BIG STINK (or a small stink). But really–support your local libraries. How else will shy kids in the closet learn about gay stuff?